AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
CHARACTER: Rupert Giles
SUMMARY: Giles decides he needs a break away from Sunnydale and the Hellmouth. He finds what he thinks is the ideal small town where nothing bad apparently ever happens
WORD COUNT: 3,730
AUTHOR'S NOTE 1: Written for sharpiesgal: V - Vacation
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2: Even though Buffy is an American show, this is deliberately written in British English because Giles is so British.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
I decided I needed a break; a short holiday (or vacation as Americans call it); not for too long, a week, maybe two at the most. I had to get away from Sunnydale; from the Hellmouth and even from Buffy and her friends.
For a short time I needed not to be surrounded by teenagers, vampires and demons. I needed time to recharge my batteries; to have no one for whom I needed to be responsible; to not to have to wonder if my evenings would be interrupted by Buffy and the others; to be able to simply sit and read and enjoy a glass of malt whisky in the peace and quiet.
It was, after all, a relatively quiet time in Sunnydale. It wasn't quite as vampire and demon free as Halloween was, but nonetheless what vampires and demons had been around were the ordinary kind; the kind that Buffy could and did deal with without any problems at all. After all, she was growing up more and more each day and becoming more confident and able. I did wonder if I the day would come when I would no longer be able to teach her anything or indeed there would come a time when she no longer needed me at all.
Somewhat ironically, given I was about to leave for a short time, I found I really did not like the idea that there would come a time when she would no longer need me; when I would be surplus to requirements; when there was nothing more I could teach her. If that day ever arrived, and I truly hoped it did not, I was not entirely certain what I would do. Would I return to England and regain my life? Or would I be like all too many middle aged men and insist on clinging to the past?
The fact that I was thinking about, worrying about, such things, confirmed that I truly did need to escape for a while. Not long, just a short time. I needed time for me; I needed just a little freedom.
I told Buffy, Willow and Xander of my plans and was a little reassured (pleased even, it has to be said) that they appeared a little concerned by my leaving them. I assured them I had every faith in them and that I wouldn't actually go that far away and of course I would let them know how they could contact me and I would not be far from a telephone. That seemed to please and reassure them and they asked where I was planning on going and when and for how long.
The when was as soon as possible. The how long I decided on what we Brits do so well: compromise; I would go for ten days rather than a week or a fortnight. The where was something else; it was something I needed Willow's help with. I needed her to fire up (or whatever the term was) her new-fangled computer thing and do what she did best: research. I told her of the kind of place for which I was looking: no more than two hours drive away from Sunnydale; quiet; a place free from evil; a place that was in one respect almost old fashioned. I told her I would prefer to rent a cabin or an apartment or some similar thing rather than stay in a hotel or guest-house.
The following day I came out of the bathroom to find her waiting for me, I was very glad I always put on a dressing gown, even though I lived alone, a smile on her face and a sheet of paper in her hand. She had apparently found me the perfect place. And indeed it seemed as if she had - it was just the small town for which I had been hoping to find: peaceful, small, with trees and bushes and a lack of fancy shops and restaurants and clubs and loud music.
To my surprise and pleasure, Buffy, Willow and Xander came to see me off, even if they (including Willow) did seem somewhat taken aback by quite how many books I was taking with me given I was only going for ten days. However, it's good to have a selection and I wasn't certain what I would feel in the mood for reading, and given I was driving I had the room, so I took a fairly extensive selection. One thing I did not take were any books on vampires or demons or spells. Nor did I take any weapons or wards or anything that might be remotely needed in the fighting of evil. I did not need to as they would not be needed.
As soon as I drove into the town I knew this was the right place for me to be. I was going to thoroughly enjoy my holiday, my relaxing, peaceful, free from evil and stress and blood holiday. I had rented a small two room, plus kitchen and bathroom, apartment and spent a very enjoyable hour arranging my things. Another reason for wishing to have my own apartment rather than a hotel room, was that I could make it home for the ten days.
I discovered a rather nice, small, family run restaurant with a good, fairly small, menu whose tables were placed a good distance from one another so that one could push one's chair back without knocking into the chair behind you. It was a place where the waiting staff didn't reappear every two minutes to ask if the mouthful of food you had eaten since the last time they had asked you was good. The first evening I went there I noticed more than one person had a book or a newspaper and so on the second evening I took my book and enjoyed a fine meal accompanied by an excellent bottle of wine.
I went for a short walk around the town before I returned to my apartment - dinner had been rather filling - where I settled down in the very comfortable arm chair with my book and a glass of Glenmorangie.
I was halfway through a chapter when to my surprise there was a loud and what appeared to be a rather urgent knock on the door. I put my book down and went to the door wondering who might be knocking - after all I knew no one in the town.
Without taking the kind of precaution it had become second nature to take in Sunnydale, I opened the door and stared in surprise at Angel.
"Giles! I thought you knew better than to open a door without a crossbow or something in your hand," was how he greeted me.
I blinked. "What? Angel, what are you doing here? And what on earth do you mean?"
"Can I come in?" I nodded and moved away from the door. "Er, Giles," he said.
I turned back and instantly understood. "I'm sorry, do come in, Angel."
He came in, shut the door and locked and even bolted (I hadn't actually seen the bolts) it behind him before turning to look at me. "Buffy told me you'd decided to take a vacation and come here. Why here, Giles?"
"Because it's quiet, peaceful, safe, free from evil and -" I feel silent at the look on his face. "But the website thing said it was peaceful, safe -"
"Free from evil and a good place to take a peaceful vacation. I know it does. And it was."
"Was?" Why was I beginning to regret deeply my decision to come here? In fact my decision to leave Sunnydale at all?
"Yes, was. Before the Talliskers arrived."
"The Talliskers? Who or what are they? Are they some kind of demon?"
"Yes and no."
"Angel, do stop being so - So obscure and tell me what is going on. And why you are here? Aren't there enough demons in LA for you to take care of?"
"Plenty. But when Buffy told me you'd come here. I had to come and make sure you were okay and get you back to Sunnydale alive."
"Before I consider returning to Sunnydale, tell me who or what these Talliskers are."
He sighed and gave me an exasperated look. What had he expected me to do? Did he think he could just sweep in here, tell me I was in danger and I would simply pack my things and return to Sunnydale? "The Talliskers don't appear in any book on demons you'll have read."
"Because they are, in demon terms, new and no one lives to talk about them."
"How do you know about them?" I asked, picking up my glass and taking a sip.
To my surprise rather than answer me, he turned around and began to pace around the small room, somehow he managed to fill the room with his presence. Without consciously wishing to do so, my mind went back to one of the times I had been alone with him - well alone with Angelus. He - Angelus - had filled the room then; his presence, his confidence, his darkness; his evil had filled the room. And whilst I knew (well I thought I knew) he was still Angel, there was something about the way he strode around the suddenly far too small room, his long, black coat billowing behind him, that almost reminded me of that time.
He suddenly stopped and turned to look at me. The look on his face made me shiver inside and for the first time since I had left Sunnydale I regretted not bringing at least some weapons with me. Then the strange look vanished to be replaced by a rather grim look - one I had seen on his face before.
He sank down onto the sofa and to my surprise he picked up the bottle of Glenmorangie and raised an eyebrow. "Yes, of course," I said, hurrying fetch a second glass for him. I handed it to him and he nodded his thanks and poured a generous measure and drank half of it in one swallow.
"The Talliskers. Imagine the most powerful, evil, destructive, inhuman demon you can and double what you can imagine. Add to that a vampire's speed and guile. Add to that," he paused and took another smaller sip before looking directly at me and saying without a hint of intonation in his voice, "Angelus at his worst." I swallowed hard and reached for my own glass. Even though it was Angel sitting on my sofa, Angel who was good, Angel who fought evil, Angel whom had fought by my side more than once, Angel who had saved my life on more than one occasion - the idea of imaging Angelus at his worst . . .
"And then imagine Drusilla's madness and just what she could do." A look of what I believed to be haunted guilt flashed through his eyes. "That's the Tallisker. Part demon; part vampire; part - no one knows."
"But how is that possible? And how do you know about them? And how," I added, "do you know they are here? And how many are there?"
"Four, five, maybe six - I'm not sure. Not many, but there doesn't need to be many. One can destroy the town; make it appear as though it never existed." He emptied the rest of the whisky, stood up and headed into my bedroom.
What he said, along with the unexpected move, made me freeze for a moment or two and by the time I had mentally as well as physically shook myself and followed him into the bedroom, it was to find him throwing my clothes into my case.
"Angel! Stop that."
He didn't even pause. "You're going back to Sunnydale. Tonight. Now."
"And you?" I heard myself ask.
Now he did pause. "I'm going to make sure the Talliskers never leave town."
His words didn't surprise me, despite what he'd told me about no one walking away from an encounter with them; despite what he'd told me about only one of them being needed to destroy the town, to make it seem as if it had never existed, his words did not surprise me.
I swallowed once and spoke quietly with an air of authority in my voice, I hoped he recognised it as the tone I used when I would not be argued with. "In that case I am staying here. I am not only staying here; I am going to help you."
I'm sure he did recognise my 'I won't be argued with' tone, nonetheless not entirely to my surprise he argued. "No. You're going back to Buffy. This is my fight."
"I'm staying. I'm helping."
I wasn't at all surprised when he switched to his vampire face and strode towards me and tried to intimidate me. "I could make you."
Despite feeling a little intimated earlier as he'd paced around the room, I was now completely unfazed by him bringing out his vampire face, and I stood my ground calmly as he loomed closer and closer. "Only if you intend to restrain me, force me into my car and drive me back to Sunnydale - all of which I know you could do. But I also know you won't."
He glowered for a moment before letting his face slip out of vampire mode. "Okay you can help." He paused and then said with what sounded like a hint of self deprecation in his tone, "Actually, I'll need your help."
I stared at him and wondered quite what it had cost him to say that. "You will?"
He nodded. "There's only one way to kill a Tallisker."
He nodded. "Snap their necks." I frowned; I consider myself to be fairly adept at fighting, certainly with weapons, but the idea of me attempting to snap the neck of a powerful demon seemed faintly ridiculous. Angel clearly read my look as he shook his head and said, "I'll do that. I need you to do a particular spell to bind them so that I can kill them."
That sounded much better to me; spells I could do; I was confident I could help rid the town of these super-demons. At least I was until Angel returned from fetching a spell book from his car and showed me the spell I needed to do. It was far more complex than anything I had ever attempted.
However, I was determined; these Talliskers could not be allowed to live and I was a vital part in ending their lives. I read it through several times and said it in my mind until I was reasonably confident I would be able to do it.
Angel had returned to pacing around the room whilst I'd studied the spell. I knew it wasn't possible, but I would have sworn he looked paler than he normally looked. I had never seen him quite so uneasy, quite so - I would say nervous were it not for the fact that he was a vampire; he certainly did not appear confident.
He stopped and turned around. "Giles?"
"Are you sure you want to come? I can manage the spell as well as -"
"I'm coming with you, Angel. If these Talliskers are as deadly as you say, you'll need someone to help you."
He didn't look particularly convinced. However, he nodded once before saying in a flat tone, "If I tell you to get out. You get out, no matter what, Giles."
I nodded. We both knew I was being less than truthful.
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
I'd like to be able to say that it all went smoothly; that it all went according to plan and that neither Angel nor I were hurt. I'd like to be able to say Angel had exaggerated the strength and guile of the Talliskers.
However, it did not go smoothly, it did not go according to plan and both Angel and I were hurt. He was hurt a lot worse than I, because at the last second when the final Tallisker was about to shoot a bolt of what seemed to be a mixture of lightning and fire at me, Angel put himself between it and me and took the full force of the bolt. Quite how he'd managed to remain conscious in order to snap the Tallisker's neck as I recanted the binding spell, I do not know. However, somehow he had managed it.
As the Tallisker fell to the ground, Angel fell as well and lay slumped over the body of the dead Tallisker completely unmoving. Despite knowing there are only limited ways to kill a vampire, I actually feared the Tallisker's bolt was another way, one of which no one knew, and that Angel was indeed dead.
I could only see out of one eye and that kept blurring; my head was bleeding; I had a deep gash in my thigh; two of my fingers appeared to be broken, and I felt as if my entire body was covered with bruises and cuts.
I, however, had got off lightly. Angel's face was a bloody mess, blood poured from a wound on his forehead as well as from the gapping wound in his chest where the Tallisker's bolt had landed. He had also been limping badly ever since he'd downed the second Tallisker, and given the gasp of agony that had escaped from him as he'd twisted and snapped the neck of the final Tallisker, I believed at some point during the most brutal, most inhuman, most awful, most frightening fight I had ever been a part of, he had broken his wrist. Clearly the only thing that had kept him on his feet, made him able to fight a fight that was to the death and beyond, was his vampire strength.
I had lain slumped on the floor, breathing hard and blinking to try to clear my vision for at least ten minutes after the final Tallisker had fallen dead to the floor. I had tried to move towards Angel, but I'm human, I don't have vampire strength and I had simply been unable to move. The stench the dead Talliskers gave off had made me regret having eaten that evening - in fact I regretted having ever eaten.
Somehow I had managed to keep my dinner from making an unwanted reappearance and finally I found the strength to be to move towards Angel. I still hadn't been able to stand, so had crawled across the floor that was covered with something I didn't wish to think about. Even though I had showered since getting back and had washed my hands at least a dozen times, I could still feel it on my hands.
Finally I had reached Angel, ascertained what I already knew: he wasn't dead, and turned my attention to how on earth I was going to get us both out of there. They say that humans can find some kind of inhuman strength at times when they really need to do so - I certainly did some hours ago.
I still don't know how I managed to drag Angel across the floor, out into the street and manoeuvre him into his car, but manage it I had. I'd been deeply worried about the amount of blood he was losing, but other than taking off my shirt and tying it around the hole in his chest, I didn't know what I could do. I could hardly take him to a hospital and ask for a blood transfusion; again all I could do was to rely on his vampire healing abilities.
I also don't know how I found the strength and ability to drive back to my rented apartment. All I can say is that for the first time ever I was grateful for the American's propensity for automatic cars.
Nor do I know how I got Angel from the car into the apartment and onto my bed. I must have passed out after doing so because I opened my eyes to find myself slumped across his still unmoving body. His head wound had stopped bleeding and when I replaced the make-shift bandage over his chest, I was relieved to see that although it still bled, the flow wasn't quite as copious as it had been, and the edges of the hole seemed just a little less jagged.
I pulled a blanket over him before forcing myself to my feet and staggering into the bathroom where I looked in the mirror and winced at the face that looked back at me. A hot shower made me feel a little better, four aspirin and a deep swallow of Glenmorangie took the edge of quite how badly my entire body and head ached - at least I told myself it did.
I then returned to the bedroom pulled on a loose jumper and trousers and got onto the bed next to Angel, leant against the bed-head and closed my eyes.
Several hours later Angel still hadn't awoke, but he was looking slightly better - at least that was what I told myself. We'd done it again - he'd done it again - we had won; we had battled evil and we had emerged victorious. Although never had a battle been as close to being lost as the one we had fought. How it had been won I did not know.
EIGHT DAYS LATER
I would have packed my cases and loaded my car and returned to Sunnydale far sooner were it not for Angel not being in any fit state to move, certainly not to drive back to LA, together with the fact that I didn't really want to shock and worry Buffy, Willow, Xander and the others too much. Although my bruises had faded and my wounds were healing, some of them at least were still obvious. Even Angel's face still showed signs of the heroic battle he had fought.
As I drove back to Sunnydale I wondered quite what I would say when Buffy and the others asked me the inevitable question: did you enjoy your holiday - vacation? I actually found myself laughing softly as I drove. So much for my nice quiet, peaceful, free from evil holiday.